Do you think that you may have a tooth cavity? You hear the term “cavities” so often that, eventually, the weight of the word can lose some of its gravity. However, if you develop one, then the seriousness of what a cavity is and what it means for the future of your oral health can suddenly become much clearer. A cavity, which describes a hole in your tooth, is caused by tooth decay—a bacterial infection in your tooth’s structure. The hole will continue to grow larger the more the infection spreads through your tooth.
Is sensitivity always a sign of a tooth cavity?
Dental sensitivity is not uncommon. In some cases it could simply be due to extreme temperature changes. That said, in many cases, sensitivity is an early warning sign of a dental issue, like a cavity, which will likely require restorative treatment, such as a dental filling. The tooth layer beneath the enamel is called dentin and it is more sensitive. If dentin becomes exposed due to decay, patients often experience heightened sensitivity.
If you’re experiencing heightened or extreme sensitivity, it is best to schedule a dental checkup.
Keep in mind, most patients need checkups and cleanings every six months to keep their smiles healthy. If it has been longer than that since you last had your teeth cleaned, you should schedule an appointment. This is regardless of whether or not you are experiencing dental symptoms.
What’s Inside a Cavity?
The sticky bacterial film that accumulates on your teeth is called plaque. There are over 600 different kinds of oral bacteria that make up dental plaque. Of these, certain bacteria produce acids that directly attack the enamel that protects your teeth. When enamel erodes, oral bacteria can infect the more sensitive underlying structure, decaying the tooth and causing a cavity to form. The key to stopping decay is to remove the harmful bacteria and infected tooth structure from within the cavity. Then, your dentist can fill the cavity with a biocompatible filling, restoring its strength and integrity.
Fighting tooth cavities
Our oral cavities are full of bacteria, both harmful and helpful. Our diets are supposed to help keep a healthy balance of healthy and harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, the modern diet today is filled with sugars and starches. These both attract the harmful oral bacteria. After your morning brushing and flossing, plaque continues to form on your teeth throughout the day. If not removed within 22 hours it will begin to harden into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed simply by brushing and flossing. Even if you are super diligent with your oral hygiene, you may still miss areas of plaque. Therefore, fighting tooth decay can seem like an uphill battle. However, fighting tooth decay can be easier than fighting the common cold because there are things you can actually do including performing regular oral hygiene at home and attending your professional dental exams and cleanings twice a year.
Cavities Are Incredibly Common, But Could They Be Prevented?
Did you know that nearly 90 percent of the adults in America will struggle with dental cavities, yet these (and many other dental problems) are avoidable with proper preventive care? You can live a life without decay, even if you have weak enamel. While good hygiene practices at home can cut down on the risk of cavities, they are not sufficient to eliminate the need for regular (generally bi-annual) professional dental cleanings. That is because only a dentist can help remove tartar once it has calcified onto the surface of the teeth. The longer this tartar buildup remains on the teeth, the more likely you are to develop cavities, and other problems.
The Best Ways to Avoid Cavities
The good news is that cavities can fairly simple to treat once they’re detected. Even better news is that they can usually be prevented by practicing excellent hygiene and attending regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist. The oral bacteria that causes tooth cavities can be controlled before they can accumulate to threaten your healthy teeth.
Find Out How Serious Your Tooth Cavity Is
Are you worried about your smile’s health? Do you have dental symptoms like discomfort while eating or grey lines along a tooth? Did your last dental visit go poorly? Have there been several years of poor dental hygiene, missed checkups, or a diet high in sugar? If so, you may have questions or even concerns about seeking restorative treatment. A restorative dentist can help address those questions, and help restore your oral health, often while improving your smile’s appearance, as well. So instead of waiting and wondering what’s wrong with your teeth or gums, while potentially allowing the situation to grow worse, talk with your restorative dentist about what could be wrong, and more importantly, what can be done to help!
If you have a tooth cavity, then ignoring it could put your dental health at serious risk. To find out how serious your cavity is and how best to treat it, schedule a consultation by calling us at 847-234-0517. We also proudly serve residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities.